Lithobates subaquavocalis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Lithobates subaquavocalis
Species Authority: (Platz, 1993)
Common Name(s):
English Ramsey Canyon Leopard Frog
Rana subaquavocalis Platz, 1993
Taxonomic Notes: Some systematists doubt that Lithobates subaquavocalis is distinct from L. chiricahuensis.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B2ab(ii,iv,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Assessor(s): Geoffrey Hammerson, Michael Sredl
Reviewer(s): Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)
Listed as Critically Endangered because its Area of Occupancy is less than 10km2, its distribution is severely fragmented, and there is a continuing decline in its Area of Occupancy, in the number of sub-populations, and in the number of mature individuals.
1996 Not Evaluated

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is known from Ramsey and Brown Canyons on the east side of the Huachuca Mountains, Cochise County, Arizona, southwestern United States (Platz 1993). The elevations of these localities range from 1,501-1,829m asl (Sredl et al. 1997). There is speculation that its historical range included the San Pedro River valley and parts of Chihuahua, Mexico (Platz 1997). Leopard frogs that might have been Ramsey Canyon Leopard Frogs have been noted from eleven canyons in the Huachuca Mountains (Sredl 2005), but there are no recent records from any of these sites, except where the species has been released recently.
United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It is still known to be extant at just five sites, including backyard ponds. Populations appear to be declining and recruitment is low at most historical localities. Translocation has been successful in one canyon. The animals released there in 1999 have produced over 400 egg masses through 2003 and the population of metamorphosed frogs is thought to be over 400 individuals. In 2004, an abundance of eggs were reported in the wild and there is some evidence that the population might be starting to rebound.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is a habitat generalist known to inhabit and breed in aquatic systems in pine-oak and oak woodland and semi-desert grassland habitats in extreme south-eastern Arizona. The perennial or near-perennial habitats from which they are known or likely to have occurred include springs, cienagas, earthen cattle tanks, small creeks, and slack water of main-stem rivers. Most habitats are modified or artificial aquatic systems (Sredl and Saylor 1998; Sredl et al. 1997). Deep areas, root masses, and undercut banks are used when escaping capture. Habitat heterogeneity is likely important. The frogs will move into newly created suitable habitat rapidly, if near to occupied habitat (Sredl 2005). It is apparently adaptable to anthropogenic changes. Only one of the nine known sites inhabited by Ramsey Canyon Leopard Frogs is a natural aquatic system; the remainder are artificial or highly modified aquatic systems (Sredl et al. 1997).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Chytrid fungus has been found in dead frogs at several sites that have declined and this pathogen might be responsible for these declines. The most important threats are disease (chytridiomycosis), non-native predators, and competitors (bullfrogs, sport fish, crayfish), the effects of small, isolated populations, and loss of aquatic habitat through drying or siltation. Other minor threats include floods that carry unnaturally high sediment loads due to road use, improper grazing practices, fire, and other sources.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is protected in The Nature Conservancy's Ramsey Canyon Preserve and the Coronado National Forest, which owns the Brown Canyon site. A voluntary conservation agreement among landowners and state and federal agencies was signed in 1996, and is currently being revised. Conservation activities focus on removing threats to populations and habitats and on improving the meta-population structure. Arizona Game and Fish Commission Order 41 prohibits the collection of this species from the wild in Arizona. Phoenix Zoo has successfully bred tadpoles from egg masses that have then been reintroduced to protected areas.

Bibliography [top]

Blackburn, L., Nanjappa, P. and Lannoo, M.J. 2001. An Atlas of the Distribution of U.S. Amphibians. Ball State University, Muncie, IN, USA.

Field, K.J., Beatty, Sr, T.L. and Beatty, Jr, T.L. 2003. Rana subaquavocalis (Ramsey Canyon leopard) frog diet. Herpetological Review: 235.

Goldberg, C.S., Field, K.J. and Sredl, M.J. 2003. Ramsey Canyon leopard frog identity crisis: mitochondrial DNA analyses support designation as Chiricahua leopard frog. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program Technical Report 218, Phoenix, Arizona.

IUCN. 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 23 November 2004.

Platz, J.E. 1993. Rana subaquavocalis, a remarkable new species of leopard frog (Rana pipiens complex) from southeastern Arizona that calls under water. Journal of Herpetology: 154-162.

Platz, J.E. and Grudzien, T. 1993. Geographic distribution and genetic variability assessment of the Ramsey Canyon leopard frog. Department of Biology, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska.

Platz, J.E., Lathrop, A., Hofbauer, L. and Vradenburg, M. 1997. Age distribution and longevity in the Ramsey Canyon leopard frog, Rana subaquavocalis. Journal of Herpetology: 552-557.

Sredl, M.J. 2005. Rana subaquavocalis Platz 1993, Ramsey Canyon leopard frog. In: Lannoo, M.J. (ed.), Status and Conservation of U.S. Amphibians. Volume 2: Species Accounts, University of California Press, Berkeley, California.

Sredl, M.J. and Saylor, L.S. 1998. Conservation and Management Zones and the role of earthen cattle tanks in conserving Arizona leopard frogs on large landscapes. In: Feller, J.M. and Strouse, D.S. (eds), Environmental, Economic, and Legal Issues Related to Rangeland Water Developments, pp. 211-225. The Center for the Study of Law, Science and Technology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.

Sredl, M.J., Field, K.J. and Peterson, A.M. 2002. Mitigating threats and managing the Ramsey Canyon leopard frog in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program Technical Report 207, Phoenix, Arizona.

Sredl, M.J., Howland, J.M., Wallace, J.E. and Saylor, L.S. 1997. Status and distribution of Arizona's native ranid frogs. In: Sredl, M.J (ed.), Ranid Frog Conservation and Management, pp. 37-89. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, Arizona.

Zippel, K. 2005. Zoos play a vital role in amphibian conservation. 26 July 2005.

Citation: Geoffrey Hammerson, Michael Sredl 2004. Lithobates subaquavocalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 30 March 2015.
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